Rosalia Maldonado has been a parent leader with Stand for Children Arizona ever since we first started organizing in the state seven years ago. In honor of Stand’s 20th year as an education advocacy organization across the country, we wanted to check-in with one of our longest tenured leaders to see what Stand for Children Arizona has meant for her and her family. Here’s Rosalia’s story.
Rosalia, seven years is a long time. I imagine there have been a lot of memorable moments, but let’s go back to the beginning. Do you remember what it was that drove you to join Stand for Children Arizona and become a leader?
I met Liliana (Hutcheson, Stand AZ’s Organizer) seven years ago at Carl Hayden H.S. at a parent meeting. At that time, my oldest son was in 2nd grade. My sister was living with me. I was her parent guardian and she was in HS. I didn’t know parents had the opportunity to get involved at the high school level. For me, it was a learning process. I learned a lot about education and ways to get involved outside of the classrooms. I learned about important education bills and learned once they become law, the community cannot change them. It was then that I realized the importance of having parents informed, in order to make the best decisions for our kids’ education. As I leader, I have the responsibility to inform other parents in my community, as well as parents in the schools.
Tell me about the moment when you realized that joining Stand was a good move for you and your family.
I have learned a lot as a Stand leader and I am not afraid any more to ask questions in the schools regarding my kids’ education. I feel that I have a lot of support by being part of Stand and I am not alone. I can reach out to Liliana any time for questions or any help.
What has being a Stand parent meant for the education and confidence of your child?
My kids have the confidence that any decision I make regarding their education is a good one because I am an informed parent. I research any decision that I make.
How has it changed your life personally, and why have you stayed active this long?
As I mentioned earlier, I started with my sister, but I have three kids. At that time Jose Luis was in second grade. Now he is in 9th grade. Luis was in Kindergarten. Now he is in 7th grade. Saul, the youngest, wasn’t even in school and now he is in 5th grade. I am not done with their education and I will continue to be a Stand leader for a long time. Stand has change my life because no matter how bad education is in Arizona, and especially in my district, Murphy, I have to look for solutions and not just be a part of the problem.
What would your response be to the false belief that immigrant parents don’t have the same dreams for their children that other American families do? What would you want to say to people who believe that?
It is totally a false statement. As a parent, we have the responsibility to inform our children that they have the same opportunity as any other kid, no matter their culture, color or background, as long they go to school and complete their education. Our job as a parent to set goals for them and embrace the fact that they don’t have limits. Parents play a very important role and everybody has the same responsibility to talk to their children, whether you are an immigrant or a natural born U.S. citizen.
Stand for Children Arizona is celebrating its 20th year. What is your overall feeling about the organization, and how would you like to see it grow in the next 20 years?
As a leader, I have high expectations for Stand. I would like to see that more parents join Stand and get involved in their children’s education. Stand is a great organization that gives us the information and the tools to helps our children. What I have learned as a Stand leader is something I have used not only in my children’s education but also in my personal life. I would like to see Stand in all of the states, and even around the world. We need to teach parents ALL children in the world have the potential to become successful. Nobody needs to label our kids. When a student is a good student, they are opening doors for their future. For example, they can get scholarships easier for higher education, and once they complete their education they have something that nobody can take away from them.
Lili Hutcheson has also been with Stand from the beginning here in Arizona. How has her influence and guidance helped you and the other parents?
Lili is a person who pushes the parents, and doesn’t let them give up. She has been in Murphy for many years working to help us improve the education in this district. It has been challenging, and she is still here! Not like other organizations that come and go. She is in constant communication with us and she has proven to be a great leader. We trust her and believe in her. One day together, we are going to change Murphy for the better in significant ways.
Is there anything else you would like to say, or want us to know?
Thank you very much for all the help that Stand had provided us over the years. Thank you for all of the knowledge, and most importantly, the guidance I had received to help my children to have a better future. Thank you for all of the support and work that you do in the Hispanic community.